Friday, my departure date finally arrived. This would mark my 3rd time landing on the land of golden pagodas and elephants. Of course, my previous night was spent on thinking about how the past has played out and how it was relevant to present time.
First time, there was Pead, whose kindness exceeded the boundary between what is comfortable and what is not. I remembered seeing him walking out of the bathroom, wearing a thin soccer shorts which revealed his briefs’ line and bulge when I came to his place that Saturday afternoon. Later, he took me to Asiatique, insisting on covering all of the travel cost while I was still wondering how MRT worked.
That night, a random mate asked me whether Pead & I had decided on what to wear. Upon realizing that we were both in black t-shirt, light colored shorts and black earring on the left side and being asked such question, I couldn’t help but crack a smile. Pead, on the contrary, looked even more confused than I did earlier when I was trying to pass through the gate on my first subway ride.
Years later I found out that a friend of mine, in another country, had also met Pead when he was in Paris and fallen for him. Also years later, I found out what I had always known and wanted to known, ever since the night he told me he had never kissed a girl, that he was gay.
Second time, same airport, I wasn’t as clueless as I was before and I knew I didn’t have to be, not just because things were more familiar but mainly because I knew Ben was there waiting for me. I remember spotting him wondering around looking for me in his new goatee, striped shorts and a 3$ t-shirt in which the map of my country was printed. Last time we met, he gave me this small photo of him in early college years which I still keep in my wallet before I noticed tears were rolling down from the side.
That night, we were in Ayutthaya, climbing on top of a ruin underneath the starry night where no city light could touch upon. Ben asked me to sing the Eagles but I was too shy of the companionship. He then took me back to his mate’s place where I did my first joint and saw him getting shirtless. He looked good in just black boxer brief, where his bulge could also be seen from the other side of the bed. It was the alcohol, or else it wouldn’t have passed out.
The next year I met up with that mate of Ben again and felt like catching up with a piece of the life he had left behind. He’s back in his place, as I’m back to mine. The goofiness is still there, the charm is still there, behind those blue eyes, but no more the to-go slippers and cheap t-shirt, no more friendship bracelets.
This time, there will be no Pead nor Ben. There will be no half way stories, no butterflies thinking about what might happen next when I am alone in their isolated ambiance. Fiji Bear is there waiting for me in Bangkok.